It’s time to finally close out “Shadows of the Bat”, the long-running story from Detective Comics written by Mariko Tamaki and drawn by Amancay Nahuelpan, and of course the final in the equally long running backup story “House of Gotham” by Matthew Rosenberg and Fernando Blanco. It’s been quite the journey, but it’s nice to finally see it all come to a close, so let’s see how these stories close out.
SPOILERS AHEAD for Detective Comics #1058!
With the big climactic stuff being the focus last few issues, this issue serves as a much more chill closure to the whole ordeal. We see where everybody ended up by the end of things, and as expected really, status quo seems to return to Gotham. I think as a whole, this arc has been much more about the spectacle and fun of seeing the Bat family operate than anything else, which I believe was pulled off greatly. Perhaps there was a lot more room to really discuss mental health and corrupt institutions that prey on them, especially with how direct of a plot point it is within the story itself. But it’s all really left up to you as a reader to ruminate on; the story itself only throws a couple of bones toward that idea. That being said, that concept in regards to Arkham has been thoroughly explored before, so I don’t think it’s a negative that Tamaki chose to lean further in a different direction. In general, I think the plot of this whole arc was serviceable as a vehicle to a fun romp with the extended cast of Gotham.
Characters in this issue are still very consistent and well done. As outlined in the plot section, I don’t think anything revolutionary was done here, but it didn’t really need to be, nor do I think it was going for that. We don’t really get to see the Batman family act as a unified front like this very often, much less without Batman himself there to guide them, and that was the part I think that really made this. Of course, I also really enjoyed the bits we were given with the secondary cast, especially Koyuki and the Psycho Pirate near the end. I think the Pirate is potentially a really interesting and cool character in general, so it’s nice to see him being utilized at all.
The backup story by Rosenberg and Blanco also draws to a very solid conclusion. The culmination of everything that’s happened in the previous stories being a sit-down with Batman to discuss his moral standing was simple but monstrously effective. It’s a bit of a cliche perhaps, but it’s a cliche I love. Batman, ultimately, is not about punching bad guys. He’s about social change, about people doing good in the face of despair and tragedy, and this story serves as a great reminder of how important that is. Hell, I’m not even going to spoil anything more about it here — just go read it. You’ll thank me later.
The art is, as if I really have to say it, really good. Nahuelpan and Blanco both obviously know what they’re doing, and even the previous artists working with Tamaki here before Nahuelpan all did a great job in keeping this storyline action-packed, fun, and a real page turner. Hats off, all of you.
In the end, this was a good final issue, to a fun story, but boy, am I glad that it’s over. It was fun, but it’s definitely time to move on to something new, and that Riddler tease at the end really got me excited for a change of pace. But as it stands, “Shadows of the Bat” was a fun romp that showed you don’t need Batman around to tell a fun Batman story, but he’s certainly never unwelcome to show back up and help with the cleanup. It had some good intrigue, good art, fun character writing… just overall, pretty darn good I’d say.
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